Stephen Talbot

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Stephen Talbot
Born Stephen Henderson Talbot
(1949-02-28) February 28, 1949 (age 65)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Other names Steven Talbot
Spouse(s) Pippa Gordon

Stephen Henderson Talbot (born February 28, 1949, Los Angeles, California, United States) is an American award-winning TV documentary producer, writer and reporter who had an earlier career as a television child actor in the late 1950s and early 1960s. His father was the veteran film, TV and stage actor Lyle Talbot.[1]

As an actor, Talbot is best known for the late 1950s through early 1960s TV series, Leave It to Beaver, in which he had the semi-regular role as, "Gilbert Bates," friend of, "Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver" (Jerry Mathers).[2]

Talbot went on to become an accomplished, Emmy Award-winning "behind the scenes" contributor to the Public Broadcasting Service, "PBS," and its Frontline and "Frontline World" television series. He has produced and written over 40 documentaries for PBS, and worked for KQED-TV in San Francisco, the PBS Newshour and the Center for Investigative Reporting.[3]

He also produces a PBS music show, "Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders," and an online series of music videos called, "Quick Hits."[4]


Early life and career[edit]

Stephen Talbot (left) as Gilbert Bates in Leave it to Beaver with Jerry Mathers (center) as "the Beaver" and the late Stanley Fafara (right) as Hubert "Whitey" Whitney, circa 1962.

Having spent his early years in front of the cameras on Leave it to Beaver as "Gilbert Bates" (56 episodes), Talbot abandoned acting for a career as a journalist. In an article in he looked back with a sense of humor about his past role.

"In the interests of historical accuracy I should say that, yes, Gilbert was a troublemaker and an occasional liar, but my character was certainly no Eddie Haskell – that leering teenage hypocrite who spoke unctuously to parents ('Well, hello Mrs. Cleaver, and how is young Theodore today?') and venomously to the Beav ('Hey, squirt, take a powder before I squash you like a bug')."! [5] "I have spent my adult life trying to conceal my Leave it to Beaver past or correcting the historical record. Either way the series has become inescapable. When I was a kid, I loved acting; in fact, I badgered my father and mother until they allowed me to work. But how could I have known as an innocent 9-year-old that I was taking part in a television program that would live on for 40 years as an icon for baby boomers? In the early '80s, I turned down an offer to revive my role as Gilbert in a dreadful Beaver reunion series. "I'm trying to establish myself as a documentary filmmaker and an investigative reporter," I explained to the producers. "I can't go back to being Gilbert!"[5]

Talbot guest-starred on many television programs in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including Lassie, M Squad, The Barbara Stanwyck Show, The Blue Angels, Lawman,Wanted: Dead or Alive, The Donna Reed Show and The Lucy Show. Talbot played the role of "Ronnie Kramer" in the episode, "I Hit and Ran," of CBS's anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson. Talbot also appeared in two episodes of The Twilight Zone.[6]

In 1959, he was cast as Ab Martin, a persistent grade-school pupil in the episode "The Twister" of the ABC/Warner Brothers western series, Sugarfoot, with Will Hutchins in the title role. In the episode, he recites to his dying teacher, Roy Cantwell (Fred Beir) a part of Patrick Henry's 1775 address at St. Johns' Church. The "twister" in the title of the episode is a tornado that wipes out a western town. Other guest stars were Betty Lynn and Don Dubbins.[7]

In 1960, he played Jimmie Kendall, son of the title character in CBS's Perry Mason in the episode, "The Case of the Wandering Widow."

On stage, Talbot co-starred as "Sonny" in William Inge's, Dark at the Top of the Stairs with Marjorie Lord at the La Jolla Playhouse. He also played Dick Clark's ward in the only movie Clark ever acted in, Because They're Young (1960), a high school drama with Tuesday Weld and music by "rock 'n roller" Duane Eddy.

Adult career[edit]

As an adult, Talbot turned from acting to journalism and did not dwell on his "Leave It To Beaver" heritage, turning down numerous LITB "reunion" offers in order to be taken seriously as a reporter. But in recent years he has begun to reflect affectionately on his "Beaver" experience in articles and interviews and even in a Frontline documentary, "Diet Wars."[8]

Talbot has reported, written and produced some 40 documentaries, including two Peabody Award winners, Broken Arrow, about nuclear weapons accidents, and, The Case of Dashiell Hammett. Talbot has had a long association with the PBS series Frontline beginning with his documentary on the financing of the 1992 presidential campaign, "The Best Campaign Money Can Buy," which won a DuPont Award. In 2002, Frontline's executive producer David Fanning named Talbot to be the series editor of Frontline World, Frontline's international news magazine show. Between 2002 and 2008, Talbot oversaw the editorial content of 30 hour-long television episodes and helped commission and supervise more than 100 broadcast stories. Frontline World won the 2004 Overseas Press Club of America award for best international TV reporting. With colleague Sharon Tiller, Talbot also oversaw the Frontline World website and its' Emmy Award- and Webby Award-winning online video series, Rough Cuts.

He is currently the executive producer of Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders, a new music series for PBS with host Marco Werman, whose pilot episode aired in 2010. A second episode aired October 5, 2012. Talbot's Quick Hits music videos appear on the PBS Arts website, and on the PBS Digital Studios Sound Tracks presents Quick Hits.[9]

He was also the executive producer of The Price of Sex, a documentary by director and photo journalist Mimi Chakarova about sex trafficking in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Chakarova won the 2011 Nestor Almendros Award for courage in filmmaking from the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York and the Daniel Pearl Award from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

From 2012-2014, Talbot was senior producer for video projects at the Center for Investigative Reporting in Emeryville, California, where he also led the editorial team running, "The I Files," the first investigative news channel on

TV journalism[edit]


Stephen Talbot, reporter and producer for KQED and PBS, in San Francisco in the 1980s.

In the 1980s, Talbot was a staff reporter and producer at KQED-TV, the PBS affiliate in San Francisco, where he produced local documentaries, as well as national PBS documentaries such as South Africa Under Siege (a portrait of Nelson Mandela's ANC in exile) and The Gospel and Guatemala with Elizabeth Farnsworth. At KQED, Talbot also reported and produced dozens of feature stories for The MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour.

He has written and produced (or co-produced with Joan Saffa and Judy Flannery) several hour-long PBS biographies of noted writers, including: Dashiell Hammett, Ken Kesey, Beryl Markham,[10] Carlos Fuentes,[11][12] Maxine Hong Kingston and John Dos Passos.

For KQED in 2001, he produced a one-hour documentary about Jerry Brown as mayor of Oakland, The Celebrity and the City.

With David Davis, Talbot wrote and directed, The Sixties: The Years That Shaped a Generation, a two-hour history special that aired nationally on PBS in 2005, and was based on his earlier film, 1968: The Year That Shaped a Generation.


Talbot has written and produced ten documentaries for the critically acclaimed PBS series, Frontline. He has worked with correspondents Robert Krulwich, Peter Boyer, Bill Moyers and Lowell Bergman, and he has also appeared as a correspondent in "Why America Hates the Press" and "Diet Wars".[13]

In 2007 he produced, "What's Happening to the News" a 90-minute episode of the Frontline "News War" series. His other Frontline news documentaries include "The Best Campaign Money Can Buy", "The Heartbeat of America" (an investigation of General Motors), "Public Lands, Private Profits" (about gold mining on federal land in the West), "Rush Limbaugh's America",[14] "The Long March of Newt Gingrich", "Why America Hates the Press", "Spying on Saddam",[15] "Justice for Sale" with Bill Moyers,[16] and "The Battle Over School Choice".

His "investigative biography" of Newt Gingrich – "The Long March of Newt Gingrich" (1995) with correspondent Peter Boyer – drew renewed interest and was posted with updates on the Frontline website in 2012 when Gingrich made his unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination.[17]

From 2002–2008, Talbot was the series editor and a senior producer for Frontline/World, the international TV news magazine program and website. With reporter Kate Seelye, he also produced a half-hour FRONTLINE/World story, "The Earthquake", about political turmoil in Lebanon and Syria.[18] He was senior producer of the Emmy-winning FRONTLINE/World documentary by Gwynne Roberts, "Iraq: Saddam's Road to Hell," an investigation of a massacre of Kurds carried out by Saddam Hussein's regime.

Based at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, Talbot and colleague Sharon Tiller taught classes and helped identify and mentor the "next generation of video journalists" whose work was showcased on Frontline/World.[19]


His articles have appeared in,[20] the Washington Post Magazine, The Nation, Mother Jones, Rolling Stone, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Los Angeles Times. Talbot wrote about Robert Mugabe in an article for the Frontline/World website.[21] In the 1970s, he was a reporter and editor for Internews, a radio and print foreign news service based in Berkeley, California.


Talbot has won numerous awards for his broadcast journalism, including two national Emmy Awards, four local (San Francisco) Emmys, three Golden Gate Awards from the San Francisco International Film Festival, three Thomas M. Storke International Journalism Awards from the World Affairs Council of Northern California, two Peabody Awards, two DuPont-Columbia Journalism Silver Batons, a George Polk Award, an Edward R. Murrow Award from the Overseas Press Club of America, a First Prize TV Award from the Education Writers Association, a National Press Club Arthur Rowse Award for media criticism, and an Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He has been nominated three times for best documentary script writing by the Writers Guild of America.

Personal life[edit]

Stephen Talbot is the son of the late Lyle Talbot, a 1930s movie star and a veteran TV and stage actor. Stephen Talbot attended Harvard High School (now called Harvard-Westlake) in North Hollywood (class of 1966) and graduated in 1970 from Wesleyan University (Connecticut) where he was very active in anti-Vietnam war protests. He began making films about the anti-war movement, including March on Washington, DC III (about Vietnam Veterans Against the War), and Year of the Tiger (filmed in Vietnam).

Stephen Talbot lives in San Francisco with his wife, Pippa Gordon. They have a son, Dashiell, and a daughter, Caitlin. Talbot named his son Dashiell, now a lawyer with the Children's Law Center in Los Angeles, after San Francisco mystery writer Dashiell Hammett. His daughter, Caitlin, is an actress and yoga instructor in Los Angeles, who graduated with an M.F.A. from American Conservatory Theater, in San Francisco.[22]

Talbot's sister, New Yorker magazine staffer Margaret Talbot, wrote The Entertainer: Movies, Magic and My Father's Twentieth Century (Riverhead Books, 2012), about their father, Lyle Talbot, and their family history.[23] His brother, David, was the founder and original editor of

Select filmography[edit]

See the complete Stephen Talbot filmography at IMDB
Year Title Role
1957 Leave it to Beaver
1959-1963 56-episodes (TV)
Gilbert Bates
1961 The Twilight Zone
Static (TV)
The Boy
1962 The Twilight Zone
The Fugitive (TV)
1982 The Case of Dashiell Hammett
1989 Crossing Borders: The Journey of Carlos

Writer, Co-Producer
1992 Frontline
The Best Campaign Money Can Buy (TV)
2004 Frontline
Diet Wars (TV)
2005 The Sixties: The Years That Shaped
a Generation
2007 Frontline
News War: What's Happening to the News (TV)
Producer, Co-Writer
2010 & 2012 "Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders"
(TV) PBS pilot episode
Executive Producer


  1. ^ Mel Gussow (1996-03-05). "Lyle Talbot, 94, Charactor Actor And TV Neighbor - New York Times". Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  2. ^ "Leave It to Beaver (1957–1963)". Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  3. ^ "Stephen Talbot | The Center for Investigative Reporting". Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  4. ^ ""Sound Tracks" proposed for PBS, 2011". 2011-09-19. Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  5. ^ a b Talbot, Stephen. "Living Down Beaver". Mothers Who Think. Retrieved 2006-10-08. 
  6. ^ "Stephen Talbot". Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  7. ^ ""The Twister", April 14, 1959". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved January 7, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Confessions Of A Frontline Dieter | Diet Wars | FRONTLINE". PBS. 2004-04-08. Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  9. ^ YouTube Channel
  10. ^ Mitgang, Herbert (1986-10-08). "TV REVIEWS - 'World Without Walls,' About Beryl Markham". Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  11. ^ Beryl Markham. ""Fuentes in a TV Film, On Life and Himself"". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  12. ^ "TV review of biography of Beryl Markham". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  13. ^ "Search Results : Stephen Talbot". Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  14. ^ Walter Goodman (1995-02-28). "TELEVISION REVIEW; What Makes Rush Limbaugh Tick So Loudly - New York Times". Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  15. ^ Walter Goodman (1999-04-27). "TELEVISION REVIEW; From Alpha Dog to Wound-Licking in Iraq - New York Times". IRAQ: Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  16. ^ "Video: The Journal: Justice For Sale | Watch Bill Moyers Online | PBS Video". 2010-02-19. Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  17. ^ Sarah Moughty (2011-12-19). "The Long March of Newt Gingrich: Part One | The Long March of Newt Gingrich | FRONTLINE". PBS. Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  18. ^ "FRONTLINE/WORLD . Lebanon - The Earthquake . Index page". PBS. Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  19. ^ "Frontline World video journalists bring world to Web", San Francisco Chronicle, October 12, 2007.
  20. ^ "Stephen Talbot". Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  21. ^ "FRONTLINE/WORLD . Zimbabwe - Shadows and Lies . Recollections of Robert Mugabe . PBS". Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  22. ^ [1][dead link]
  23. ^ "The Entertainer: Movies, Magic, and My Father's Twentieth Century: Margaret Talbot: 9781594487064: Books". 2012-11-08. Retrieved 2014-07-04. 

External links[edit]